In late 2002, a small informal group of business people and concerned citizens developed the idea of the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership as a vehicle for positive change in Victoria’s Indigenous community. They approached the Australian Communities Foundation (known then as the Melbourne Community Foundation) and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to assist with the financial management of the organisation.

The Fellowship was originally known as the Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership. The name change occurred in 2007 to avoid confusion with the Nicholls Family activities.

The Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership was formalised in 2003 and is administered by a voluntary Advisory Committee that provides executive support to the Fellowship.

Since 2003, through the provision of financial support, networking opportunities and professional development to appointed Fellows and Emerging Leaders, the Fellowship has endeavoured to empower Indigenous leaders to focus their drive and energy in areas that have been identified by Victoria’s Indigenous community as being of importance.

Indigenous leaders have been able to pursue work in areas such as financial literacy, community governance and direction, school retention, building self-esteem, working with mainstream organisations/programs around Indigenous perspectives, building skills and capacity, improving health and wellbeing, raising awareness of mental health and disabilities, and ensuring their cultural identity remains intact through art/dance and music. They are also frequently contacted for public speaking engagements, presentations and are also asked to become members of boards and participate in workshops/seminars.

Some of the notable achievements of the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership include:

  • The appointment of the Inaugural Fellow Paul Briggs in 2003.
  • The appointment of two subsequent Fellows (in 2006 and 2011) and 13 Emerging Leaders (from 2006 – 2013). Refer to the FIL Appointment of Fellows and Emerging Leaders Timeline in the Library Section.
  • Led the inaugural “The Long Walk” anniversary in 2005.
  • Attendance at the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) World Health Conference in Canada, as well as visiting First Nations organisations during a Study Tour of Canada in 2007.
  • Attendance at the Reflection on Indigenous Learnings and Leadership: A Canada Study Tour experience Forum Presentation at the IBIS in 2007.
  • Philanthropy Australia Indigenous Issues Affinity Group was formed after a coalition of interested parties were inspired at the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership event in 1997.
  • An event was held in 2009 to celebrate the work and vision of its Inaugural Fellow. Refer to the Inaugural Paul Briggs Luncheon 2009 and the Speech by Carly Sheldon in 2009 in the Library Section.
  • ‘Who Says You’re Too Young to Lead?’ Youth Forum in 2010.
  • Published a book titled “IT’S IN US ALL: Stories of leadership” in 2013 (Refer to link)
  • Interviews with the Fellows and Emerging Leaders which were presented on DVD in 2013, as well as a compilation 10-year anniversary DVD of the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership.
  • Published a book titled “IT’S IN US ALL: Stories of leadership” in 2013 (Refer to link)
  • Ran a session titled ‘RIGHT WAY, WRONG WAY, WHICH WAY:  stories from the field, practical steps and tools to forge respectful relationships and invest in leadership of Aboriginal Australia’ at the 2016 Philanthropy Australia National Conference.
  • Ran a webinar with Probono Australia and Philanthropy Australia titled ‘RIGHT WAY, WRONG WAY, WHICH WAY:  Respectful funding relationships and cultural safety with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Ran a 1.5 day Retreat with the Alumni and Indigenous Elders who have supported the Fellowship.

To view our booklet “IT’S IN US ALL: Stories of Leadership” Click Here. To download a copy (in PDF format) Click Here.